Buy These Records: Alice Cooper

By Scott Giampino :: Quite honestly, these two back-to-back releases by the Alice Cooper Band are two of the best rock and roll albums ever released! Hard to believe that both these monsters came out in THE SAME YEAR! 1971. Who puts out two crushing records in one year anymore? Answer – NO ONE, except for reprobates Glen Buxton, Michael Bruce on rhythm guitar, Dennis Dunaway on bass guitar, and drummer Neal Smith. And don’t forget Vincent Furnier as Alice!

The band was completely tuneful, rocking, and had great musicianship, yet also was weird, shocking, in-your-face all the while not (usually) being plain dumb like many hard rock bands of the time (I am looking at you, Grand Funk, Deep Purple, Humble Pie). Don’t get me wrong though, I do like dumb rock. But the Alice Cooper band was smart, unique, and really wrote greatly crafted songs.

Love It to Death is the band’s third LP in their chronology of greatness and can be pinpointed as the release when everything began to come together for the band. Their first couple of albums (Pretties for You and Easy Action) were both mostly bonkers psychedelic/acid rock scenes and sounded little like their eventual rip-roaring, fist-in-air rock and roll. Producer Bob Ezrin can be credited immeasurably for helping these lads focus on the songs. That didn’t keep them from keeping their trashy, over-the-top theatrical live shows.

Of course, the album featured their monster anthem, “I’m Eighteen,” but each song on the album is a hit in my book. In fact, each of the eight songs on each of these records is a hit, and really sets an unbeatably high bar template of how a record should be laid out.  The rockers (“Long Way to Go,” “Caught In A Dream”) on the album show that the band was in line with other great high energy bands of the time like the Mc5, Groovies, and Stooges. The last three songs foretell of Alice’s later forays into horror theatrics being the main focus — a fact that eventually tore this original band apart. They were tired of it and felt the theatrics –and Alice’s persona– overshadowed the songs, and they had a point. And a rework of the early sixties spiritual “Sun Arise” perfectly closes this one.

The cover caused much controversy at the time of its release, as early pressings show Cooper holding his cape around him in such a way to give the illusion of an exposed penis. This led Warner Brothers to censor it. Shocking! Alice Cooper‘s thumb along with his right arm is clearly airbrushed out on censored versions. America was not ready for the dick!

Killer also is a BONAFIDE 10 out of 10 album. Plus it came with a calendar featuring a pic of Alice himself getting hanged! Put that in your locker. Top-down summertime rockers like “Yeah Yeah Yeah” and “Under My Wheels” are ground zero for ballsy Rock and Roll and have been covered by every rock and roll band worth its salt.  The band nods to Prog Rock with “Halo of Flies,” a lengthy tune with many changes and turns, all the while never losing its steam.  It was an attempt by the band to prove that they could perform King Crimson-like progressive rock suites! “Dead Babies” stirred up some controversy following the album’s release, despite the fact that its lyrics conveyed an “anti-child abuse” message, proving YET AGAIN that the reactionary USA has never been anything but.

The album firmly and crushingly solidified their extremely varied heavy rock style, all the while showcasing Ezrin‘s amazing arrangements including horns, strings, piano, you-name-it. Wait, STRINGS? On a hard rock record? You bet, and this ain’t no Black Sabbath sappy arrangement like on “Changes.” Why “Be My Love” isn’t a classic rock staple is beyond me. They even wrote a tribute to fallen comrade Morrison on “Desperado.” Grab a hanky.

The Alice Cooper band became one of the world’s top rock bands and touring acts; as well as the most notorious and misunderstood of bands, completely hated by adults. JUST LIKE FUCKING ROCK AND ROLL SHOULD BE.